Photo Credit: Jason Mrachina (CC-By-NC-ND 2.0)

Update: SSB 3143 passed in the Iowa Senate Judiciary Committee on 2/12/18 8 votes to 5 and will be debated by the full Senate.

A bill that would ban abortions of pre-born babies when a heartbeat is detected passed through its subcommittee in the Iowa Senate on Thursday morning. The subcommittee for SSB 3143, sponsored by State Senator Brad Zaun (R-Urbandale), recommended passage by a vote of 2 to 1. State Senators Amy Sinclair (R-Allerton) and Jason Schultz (R-Schleswig) voted in favor of the bill. State Senator Janet Petersen (D-Des Moines) did not.

The legislation states that except in the case of a medical emergency an abortion is not permitted if a heartbeat is detected through the use of an abdominal ultrasound. The legislation defines a medical emergency as the life of the mother being endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, physical injury, or a physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy.

Physicians who knowingly and intentionally perform an abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected and medical emergency does not exist are guilty of a class D felony that is punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of $750 to $7,500, (Iowa Code § 902.9).

The Iowa Senate Judiciary Committee will consider the bill on Monday at 5:00pm in Room 116 at the State Capitol Building.

The FAMiLY Leader registered in support of the bill. The bill is opposed by The Hale Group, Iowa Independent Physician’s Group, The Iowa Clinic, Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault, League of Women Voters of Iowa, Iowa Medical Society, Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, Family Planning Council of Iowa, ACLU of Iowa, and Planned Parenthood.

The Iowa Catholic Conference registered as undecided on this bill. Tom Chapman, the executive director for the organization, states that Iowa’s Catholic bishops are concerned that the bill if passed could end up in courts where it would be overturned and threaten the advances made to protect life in Iowa.

Last year, Iowa passed a 20-week late-term abortion ban, but the 72-hour notification that was included in that bill has been kept from going into effect by the courts.

This bill, like the late-term abortion ban, includes a severability clause that, in the event the courts ruled a section of the law to be unconstitutional, it maintains the rest of the law should be enforced.

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